I am now in complete awareness that I have been parenting
from a place of guilt, shame, and fear.
After over a year of telling my friends, family, and boyfriend that this is the right way to parent, and it is of critical importance that I do these certain things, or Phoenix will forever be damaged…I need to admit that I am wrong.
Everyone in my life has tried to talk to me about my schedule and relationship with Phoenix, and I have always been defensive or silent, listening to their words but never really hearing them. Ironically…. I get aggravated with individuals who are closed-minded and not willing to see other’s perspectives. Yet, I failed to see this has been my stance on parenting. I get annoyed with my boyfriend’s teenage son, who refuses to listen to his elders’ advice and must learn everything the hard way. Yet, I refused to listen to other parents’ advice and literally had to hit rock bottom to reconsider my parenting choices. I judge individuals who go to western healthcare and take their doctor's word as gospel truth with no alternative opinions or research. Yet, I took my midwives' and doulas’ advice as the only way to parent without considering any other options or what would work best for my family. My best friend made an intense observation as I was experiencing my epiphany that there was more than one right way to parent, and it’s ok if the way I parent is different than how I expected I would. She asked me what if my dad could have looked at himself, admitted he had it wrong, and changed his ways. Although I wasn’t behaving like my father, she said the fear and guilt my father operated from were from the same thread. I immediately realized I was repeating the parenting model that I was so desperately trying to avoid because I wasn’t parenting from a place of love. She finished her amazing insight by reminding me that we are always given a chance to transcend what our parents taught us. Of course, it always shows up looking different, but it’s always still there. (Background: My father was a Pentecostal pastor who ruled our house with fear and stringent rules. He viewed humanity as filthy sinners who deserved to burn in hell, but God took mercy on us and sent Jesus to save us from our sins. He took the Bible as literal truth, so he was the head of the house and what he said was law.) I have no problem admitting to my best friends that I am wrong. I feel no judgment or “told you so” energy from them, only relief and love. And at this point, I could care less about admitting I was wrong to the family because I am tired of defending my decisions and worrying about what everyone thinks. Really the only person I am struggling to tell is my boyfriend, who has suffered these past 15 months because of my decisions. In the first six months of Phoenix’s life, it was challenging for Matt to watch her and spend time with her because she wanted my boobs 24/7 and was used to be carried by me in her waking hours while sleeping on me in her sleeping hours. He would offer to help me on rough days and nights, but Phoenix would get hysterical when I handed her over. Co-sleeping with Phoenix in the middle of the bed has meant that Matt and I barely touch, cuddle, or have sex. Instead, our conversations have been limited to Face-timing with Phoenix while he is at work, dinner with Phoenix, and while we bathe Phoenix. In other words, intimacy and conversations beyond the basics of daily life have all but disappeared from our relationship. Anytime he has suggested we do something different, I have guilted and shamed him with research I have read or information I have been told. So how was he supposed to respond when I was essentially calling him a bad parent for wanting something different? I love being right. I choose to be “right” over being happy too much. I prefer to argue a point already beaten to death to ensure the other person knows I am right (when in reality, they probably are still seeing it from their perspective) instead of dropping the subject and moving on. This is a big mistake that has severely impacted our relationship and his life. After many subtle hints, heated conversations, and intense arguments about the same subject, I have to admit that I am wrong, apologize, and ask for forgiveness…and that feels hard, weird, and embarrassing. But it’s time to stop arguing with those I love and myself about what is “right” and choose to be happy. For me, that looks like dropping all the fear, guilt, and shame and begin to live out of a space of love. Wish me luck. **I would like to say that I know there is nothing wrong with attachment parenting, co-sleeping, wearing your baby, and breastfeeding on demand. It is the reasoning and energy behind why you parent the way you do that I believe matters. I know mothers who adore attachment parenting, and it comes from a space of pure love. Unfortunately, I failed to recognize that I was doing attachment parenting from a space of fear, guilt, and shame-when I should just be parenting from a space of love, however that looks.